WHO WEARS THE PANTS…


I’m going to steal, plagarize, imitate ( yeh, that’s the ticket… ) ~ …no, better yet: PAY HOMAGE to a feature from one of my favorite bloggers’ set-pieces: FRIDAY FOTO FOLLIES. And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hope my friend approves.

What Aurora over at ONCE UPON A SCREEN does, is post a lot of photos that illustrate a theme. She does all manner of these. Click on Audrey and see what I mean.

We have seen some of the most beautiful women in classic Hollywood wearing designs fit for a Queen…gowned by Edith Head, Irene, Givenchy, Orry-Kelly, Yves St. Laurent et al. But I’m a jeans and boots girl. Casual is my speed. I think slacks are the most comfortable, freeing thing to wear. Taking a page from Once Upon A Screen, my post is self~explanatory: WHO WEARS THE PANTS. Here are some of my favorite actresses in outfits either from a movie, photo~shoot or just lounging around. Some of you might think this look is very unfeminine. But you’d be wrong.

I’ll start with the Patron Mistresses of Pants…Dietrich and Hepburn. And Garbo. Can’t forget Garbo. Comfort Queens.

  
Dietrich                                                     Hepburn


Hepburn wears this beautiful smoking jacket lounging outfit in “Woman of the Year
( 1942 ) and it’s one of my absolute favorites.

  

Androgyny, much?

   
Top hat, white tail and tails. No one wears this better. Alright…if you must count Fred Astaire.

The Great Garbo

Ninotchka” “Anna Karenina” “Queen Christina” and for me, her greatest performance… “Camille” ~ Garbo reigned supreme in classic films of the silent and talkie era. Her mystique is unique. She wore a lot of exotic styles in her films and could carry them off. Not glamorous here, but I love her casual look:


Comfort over style

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Here are some other actresses wearing the pants off…pants.


When I was a kid and watched her in tv’s “Bewitched” I probably had little idea of the fabulous career she had as a leading character actress. My favorite performances of AGNES MOOREHEAD are “Dark Passage” “Caged” and “Magnificent Obsession.” She can cut you to the bone ( “Citizen Kane” ) ~ She wasn’t afraid to be what her character needed her to be. But she also could be a friend. Doesn’t Aggie look marvelously relaxed and youthful here?

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She didn’t care for the name, but ANN SHERIDAN was the Oomph Girl and with good reason; she had it in spades. She was Warner Bros’ glamor girl, but if they gave her half a chance, she showed ’em she could act. Whether comedy or drama, Sheridan could handle both with equal aplomb. She’s pictured here with her director Vincent Sherman, who did two pictures with her: “The Unfaithful” and “Nora Prentiss.” Look at those shades and the hair…do a pair of slacks look like it deters Vinnie? He’s at her feet. 

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Here’s my petite Force of Nature…the Queen, BETTE DAVIS. She built many a soundstage at Warner Bros. from the box office success of her films. Seeing her in pants was such an unusual thing because it’s all about dresses for women back then. I like her riding outfit in “Dark Victory.” For me, that look is prognosis positive. Oooh look, Cora Witherspoon who could play to the manor born or W.C. Fields’ wife. I also like Davis’ outfit in “The Great Lie” when she was keeping Mary Astor company while waiting for “their” baby to be born.

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CAROLE LOMBARD ~ 1930’s icon. She was much more than a screwball comedienne. See her in “Vigil in the Night” “In Name Only” or “Made for Each Other.” But gosh darn it, it’s “My Man Godfrey” and “Twentieth Century” that cements her in our memory almost ninety years later. Looks like she’s talking to the great Lubitsch and comfortable doing it. Could it be… or not to be?

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CLAUDETTE COLBERT could wear the hell out of clothes with that petite little figure of hers. ( Her wedding gown in “It Happened One Night” is to die for! ) She had a great career in film ( “The Palm Beach Story” “Midnight” and “Since You Went Away“…to name a few ) but look at her here at home, chilling out…just as you’d expect from Cleopatra.

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One of my all~time favorite movie stars is DORIS DAY. I am just over the silvery moon about her. Pretty nautical here in her decidedly 1940’s stylized look. What a career she’s had ( comedy/drama/sing/dance ) working with some of the great leading men in Hollywood like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, David Niven, Jack LemmonKirk Douglas…and three guys name Jim: Garner ~ Cagney ~ Stewart. She could also wear her clothes, without them wearing her, whether she’s Calamity Jane or a suburban housewife.  She could do anything. Really. 

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There she is, A girl’s best friend. The great EVE ARDEN who comes in a movie with five minutes of screen time and out she memorably exits, screen left. Here she is in her “Stagedoor” chill. The woman can wear anything. She’s as statuesque as a super model and as sharp as a laser beam. See “Mildred Pierce” if you need proof.

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GINGER ROGERS ~ She could do comedy, drama and dance her *** off. She can put on the glam with the best of ’em ( have you seen her outfits w/dance partner Fred Astaire? ) Doesn’t she look great in these wide legged pants? I always found her to be a natural onscreen.

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HARLOW in satin…is a dream. In slacks…sort of like you and me. I mean, if you and me were glamorous movie star bombshells being relaxed. My favorite films of hers are “Bombshell” and “Libeled Lady” and of course, “Dinner At Eight.” Harlow…you were gone too soon.

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This is my favorite look of IRENE DUNNE’s. She’s on set of “A Guy Named Joe.” She had a nice slacks outfit in “The Awful Truth” too. Never over the top, her talent is always under the radar.

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JENNIFER JONES looks rather pensive. A far cry from her “Portrait of Jennie” “Duel in the Sun” “Madame Bovary” looks. People blow hot or cold over Jones, but I think she’s a fine underrated actress able to exhibit wells of emotion. Her trying to retrieve her love letters from a burning fire brings me to tears. xoxoxo these pants and boots!

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KEEPING UP WITH THE JOANS ~

   

Blonde in the 30’s, brunette in the 40’s. The great underestimated JOAN BENNETT. She can fit any place: on safari or a scarlet street or be the mother of a bride. Yes her sister Constance is known as THE fashion plate. But little sister Joan’s not bad. She’s stylish as diamonds with attitude for days. Whew!!

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She looks like she stepped out of 2018 with those shades and jumpsuit. What can I say about her. No one wore clothes like her. They say no one loved being a movie star more than JOAN CRAWFORD. Well if you’re going to be good at something…

Her career spans decades. I’m partial to her Oscar-winning role in “Mildred Pierce.” But she was good in “Rain“, “Daisy Kenyon” and with Gable. Hell, she’s a STAR!

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“THE LOOK”

You know how to whistle don’t you? LAUREN BACALL is worth whistling for. She was known as “The Look” in her modeling days, and boy she had it. She was never the frilly feminine type. Very tailored. Pants suit her, don’cha think? I like her in “Dark Passage” and “Written on the Wind.” I dunno…I kind of think she was never really given a chance to bloom as an actress. Perhaps not getting good scripts. Perhaps overshadowed by her more famous husband. Perhaps there was more to Life for her. In movies, she always seems down~to~earth, no nonsense; a little intimidating. If you approach her, you’d better bring it. 

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You can’t get more doe-like, more feminine than Loretta Young. Even in this staged photo shoot, she’s a vision. ( Pssst! See her strong performances in “The Stranger” and “Midnight Mary.” )

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For this flaming redhead, comedy or drama, gowns or slacks…LUCILLE BALL could do and wear it all with ease. Yeh, I love Lucy.

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This is MERLE OBERON playing George Sand in “A Song to Remember.” And I have to tell you, I’m floored by this costume. Isn’t it smart? Merle, a unique looking beauty, hasn’t made movies were so memorable other than the towering “Wuthering Heights.” ( I personally like her and Dana Andrews in “Night Song” ). My claim to fame is when I went to see the throngs of stars attend the premiere of “The Godfather” ( 1972 ) back in NYC, I saw Merle Oberon with Robert Wolders. Very few people were excited by seeing her. Boy, I was.

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One of my favorites…PAULETTE GODDARD walks with her beau, Charlie…swinging her shades. Looking sassy, stylish, comfortable and nonchalant. I understand her collection of jewels and paintings is unparalleled in Hollywood. Another actress with not a stellar filmography, her role in “The Women” is a standout. My friend Wendy writes a wonderful essay for my blog on Goddard I urge you to read.

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The Love Goddess is looking mighty casual here in a pair of slacks. Hell, I confess…I don’t care WHAT  RITA HAYWORTH  wears.

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MY STANY!!!!

These are my two favorite fotos of Stany. One she looks younger than one remembers her, and the other she’s so disheveled in “My Reputation” ( 1946 ), her hair and plaid jacket just kill me. 

    

But the theme is pants…

Her career is legendary. But get a load of that blouse, the belt, those leopard print shoes, her attitude. That’s BARBARA STANWYCK alright. See her hand in her pocket? Damn, she’s ready to kick ass, and she ain’t takin’ names either. Elegant.

     

Thank you all for perusing my Friday Foto Follies. I might try this again in the future with another theme I’ve gathered along my way. Once again, I tip my hat to Aurora over at Once Upon A Screen who can REALLY show that a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out her photo galleries by clicking on this photo of 40’s horror Queen, Evelyn Ankers:

…and this?  Oh…it’s just my indulgence. I’m an Evelyn Ankers fan:

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THE SILVER CORD ( 1933 )

 

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY-III

Come on, come on. Don’t get your face all scrunched up and twisted in a knot over my macabre little joke. You know not every woman is meant to be a mother, even if she does have the biology to become one. If you have or had a kind, loving mother, be happy, grateful, celebrate her. Give your mom a hug if you can.

That’s not the kind of mom this essay is about.

SILVER CORD ( V )

“A man’s mother is his mother.”

Uh-oh.

I was shocked to the core when I watched “THE SILVER CORD”. Laura Hope Crews gives an astounding performance as a mother whose pathological neediness cripples her grown sons with almost devastating consequences. Previously I only saw her as ‘Prudence’ and ‘Aunt Pittypat’ in “Camille” and “Gone With the Wind.” 

SILVER CORD ( CREWS in %22GWTW%22 ) SILVER CORD ( CREWS in %22Camille%22 )

Director John Cromwell allows Crews to hold you in her grip, as you watch her destructive parental machinations play out. Eric Linden plays the younger son entrapped by the vice-grip of guilt and pity. I was torn between feeling sorry for him and wanting to smack him in the back o’ the head. I yelled and screamed for him to just walk out the door. SILVER CORD ( II )But he couldn’t; he just couldn’t defy his mother. It was as if there was an invisible force field around the perimeter. And trust me, he is deep inside that bubble unable to break that threshhold. Crews has made her son a virtual prisoner with her emotional blackmail. Frances Dee is Lindens ill-fated fiancee. Her desperate hysteria at wanting to escape is palpable. She cannot fight her mother-in-law. She has seen and has had enough. 

Joel McCrea<< Sigh! >> ( Forgive my editorializing ). You see, because he is the strong, handsome, leading man-type, I was wondering how they would portray him as a Momma’s Boy. Impossible. It was subtle but they did. I was in shock when right before my very eyes this tall drink of water becomes infantilized by Crews.

SILVER CORD ( I )

He gets tucked into bed, starts to sort of sound like an overgrown kid and that Manchurian kiss from Mom square on the lips… What the heck is going on here???!!! My jaw dropped. My jaw dropped several times during this film. McCrea has slightly more chutzpah than Linden, but just slightly. I think because ‘Mom really liked him best’ he gets just the slightest of breaks over Linden. Her grip on McCrea is not as tight, but it’s there. After ‘chats’ with his mother, he spout her teachings and gives his wife chaste kisses. Yeah, her influence is evident. 

Irene DunneSILVER CORD ( IV ) plays McCreas wife. She is very good in this; almost makes me think of an Ann Harding-type role. You know, one of those abnormal, liberated, no-nonsense, straight-shooting women the early 30s had. I think its very telling Dunne is a scientist in this film. A scientist is not the nurturer a Nurse or Kindergarten teacher is. Science deals with proving facts. Its interesting that this is the type of woman McCrea is drawn to. She is very unlike his mother. Dunne pieces together what she observes between Mother and Sons that is too uncomfortably close. She tries to calmly, rationally make McCrea see he’s trapped inside an abusive relationship, but he just doesn’t see it. Who wouldnt want to absorb, lap up, drink in absolute, unconditional love; its hard to see it’s something more destructive. After one more chance to choose between her and his mother, she has a showdown with her brand new mother-in-law and it’s a pip. Before she leaves her marriage, Dunne goes toe-to-toe with Crews. I loved Dunne’s straight, no chaser, approach; clinical…no beating around the bush.

SILVER CORD ( III )

Dunne:  “Oh I know Mrs. Phelps all about the legend of yourself as a woman you’ve built up these past thirty years for your sons to worship. But it hasn’t taken me long to see that you’re not fit to be anyone’s mother.”

Crews:  “I do not deny, I’d cut off my right arm and burn the sight out of my eyes to rid my son of you.”

Crikey! How do you fight THAT?!!

Here is something my friend Fernando wrote about the movie a few years ago:

“I don’t think Katharine Hepburn would have been right for the part. IMO, I think she would have been too strong for the part. There was something very today and modern about Irene Dunne’s attitude even though sometimes the speechifying was very 1930’s. I think one should sit down one Saturday night with some popcorn and the in-laws and share this movie.”

L0L! Let me know if anybody is speaking to each other in the morning. ( You can read Fernandos current review about the movie: here ). 

It’s Laura Hope Crews’ movie all the way. She twists and turns her emotions at the drop of a hat. She’s manipulative and deceitful as she plays one son against the other. Movies are heightened reality anyway, so Crews Mother Goddamm is wonderfully theatrical and uncomfortable to watch. She wants them dependent on her. She’s narcissistic. She’s got Münchausen Syndrome on steroids. Crews makes me see the genius of that sputtering persona she’s used in other films because she’s so un-sputtering here. Her speech at the end swayed me a bit. She’s a good advocate for the maternal instinct gone wrong. Find this movie and see it. And if possible, hug and kiss your mother.

Love means, never having to say “You’re smothering me.”

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On a side note: McCrea and Dee met during the making of this film, had a whirlwind courtship and married from 1933 until his death in 1990.

McCREA & DEE ( I ) McCREA & DEE ( II ) McCREA & DEE ( III )

 

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